When 19 year old Tony Ongarello played his first game for Fitzroy in 1952, it was against Richmond, the side he grew up supporting. This would, understandably, be a slightly uncomfortable experience for any young footballer, but one that would be quickly forgotten once the ball was set in motion. In this instance, however, his knowledge of the Richmond side gave him a greater understanding of what playing against the Tigers would mean; Don “Mopsy” Fraser would be on the field.
Mopsy was a fierce competitor, and one of the names most easily recognisable as one of the VFL’s bruisers. In his eight seasons of football with Richmond, he would be suspended for a total of 16 games. After his stint at the Tigers, he would play four seasons for Port Melbourne in the VFA, and be suspended for a whopping 30 matches.
The spectre of a shady world hung over Mopsy, and his was a different existence to that of the young Ongarello, who was fresh out of Parade College; schooling he had received following a singing scholarship.
Despite being slightly overawed by the experience, Tony had managed to kick a goal before Mopsy was moved onto him. The 29 year old veteran Tiger was physical from the outset and Tony noted that he was quite literally frothing at the mouth as he stood the young debutant.